The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has set the maximum price that superfast broadband network operators can charge wholesale customers.
The ACCC has proposed that retail service providers would pay $27 per port per month plus $15.25 per Mbps per month for aggregation for wholesale access. The regulated price will apply when an agreement cannot be reached between the network owner and the wholesale customer.
The pricing cap is being put in place so that retail broadband providers will face similar pricing whether they access superfast broadband via the NBN or from other network owners, such as Telstra, TPG and Vocus. Superfast broadband is defined as 25 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload.
Under ACCC regulation, network owners are required to open their networks to wholesale customers if requested, which allows retail ISPs to compete in the broadband market without having to own their own network infrastructure.
In July, the ACCC regulated that TPG and Telstra must open up their high-speed broadband networks to retail service providers.
Smaller network owners have dodged the requirement to open up their infrastructure to wholesale customers. Network owners that support fewer than 12,000 end users, such as Clublinks, Frontier Networks, Pivit, Spirit and Comverge, are exempt from the standard access requirements.
"This is on the basis that the compliance costs for these operators are expected to be high relative to the expected wholesale revenues and the benefits to end users, according to the ACCC's draft decision report, which was prepared following advice from UXC Consulting.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the draft prices were specifically set in line with NBN prices, and were likely to change over time. "Prices will reflect the growth in traffic across the superfast broadband sector, which will continue to drive down the average cost of wholesale aggregation services," he said.
"We expect that these wholesale price changes will likely lead to lower prices for retail customers of superfast broadband providers."
The arrangement covers broadband services built before and after January 2011. It does not cover fixed wireless, mobile or satellite services.